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Old 04-28-2012, 03:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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New member from Northern Sask, F-150 the economical choice?

Could a F-150 really be a fuel-efficient choice?


So I am currently looking at getting a new vehicle and looking for advice from a fuel economy and eco-modding standpoint.

My current vehicle is a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport (2 door) that I bought 3 years ago with just over 100 000 km on the odometer. Now it has 300 000 km on it and for all intents and purposes is worn out and has been costing me much more money to keep running than I would care to admit, especially for a vehicle I never really liked that much in the first place.

I began researching vehicles in February and have really started to settle on either getting a 2013 Mazda CX-5 GS AWD (8.0/6.4 l/100km) or a new F-150 XLT Super Cab 4X4 Long-box with 5L engine (15/10.5 l/100km). The best I can figure my current Explorer gets about 17/13 l/100km.

The Mazda would be a compromise in a lot of ways and I would definitely loose some utility. I think I could live with that for the fuel economy but I would be concerned about its durability on rough northern roads (I live near Flin-Flon, MB and do a lot of work in Pelican Narrows, SK with occasional trips out to LaRonge, Beauval, etc. These roads kill trucks if you are not careful, let alone unibody cross-overs.)

The truck would be ideal in a lot of ways but where the CX-5 would pay for itself in fuel savings over 5 years the truck wouldn’t even come close. Here is where the forums come in. If I did end up getting the truck I would probably build an aero-cap, have a removable partial grill block and possibly build a custom bumper with a retractable air-dam. With these mods would I really see a fuel efficiency increase of ~20% like some threads would suggest?

It seems fantastical to see a full sized truck with 5L engine and 4x4 getting less than 9l/100km on the highway but if it is possible without loosing capabilities or utility it is making the truck option look mighty tempting.


You can see some of my logic behind going with an F-150 on this thread. [www(dot)unicyclist.com/forums/showthread.php?t=92050] Go ahead and try to talk me into something else. My path is not set at this point but will probably pull the trigger on a new vehicle around the start of June.

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Old 04-28-2012, 03:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Unless a truck is working hard the vast majority of the time as opposed to being just a very large commuter vehicle, a truck simply isn't going to be one of your top choices if fuel efficiency is your main criteria.

If your roads are as bad as I envision from your description, you are not cruising along effortlessly and quickly on a nice ribbon of highway. You may not get as much benefit from aero work AND you may not achieve rated hwy mpg.

The first pro-truck argument that comes to mind could be if the roads are so bad as to inflict expensive wear and/or damage to a "regular duty" automobile and your truck choice is heavier-duty enough to not sustain such damage then in spite of the fuel consumption premium you could save money on repairs and longer vehicle life. But if trucks also get beat up and their parts are as expensive or moreso than car parts, so much for that.

P.S. Over 62,000 miles per year? What the devil?!?
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Fuel efficiency is not my main criteria but as you point out, I drive a lot. (km, not miles BTW)

Here is what I posted as my criteria when looking for suggestions on a different (non-car) forum in February.

Quote:
My ideal vehicle would have:
4x4 with limited slip/locking differentials (or at least AWD)
Hold 4 adults comfortably with equipment/luggage
Have at least 6' of flat cargo room in the back with seats folded/removed
Hold a 36" unicycle in the back with the wheel vertical
Rated to tow moderate loads (16' boat, trailer with two snowmobiles, etc)
Comfortable for driver (and hopefully the passengers too) on *long* rides
Decent fuel economy
Tough enough that I can drive on northern "roads" without it falling apart.
start well in the cold
Not cost an arm and a leg
It is true I don't NEED a truck but ever since switching to an SUV from a truck I have been missing the utility of an open bed. All the modern body on frame SUVs are ridiculously expensive and get worse milage than a F-150 so if I want durability I figure why not go for a truck.

If I just stayed in Sask it would be an easy choice but then part of the reason I have so many kilometres on the Explorer is that I have a seasonal job and like to go on a road-trip before or after (or before and after) work for the summer. After work last year I went down to California and ended up going up the EAST coast on my way back home to western Canada. Combine trips like that and the occasional 1500-2500km round trips to see friends on days off and you get 60-65 000 km/year quite easily. For the long trips on good roads the more efficient CX-5 makes a lot more sense.
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You might consider the Ford F150 with the Ecoboost motor. It's plenty capable of meeting your needs and gets decent mileage for a full sized truck. The CleanMPG guys did a cross country in a 2wd version @ 32mpg.
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Old 04-28-2012, 01:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Wouldn't a trailer hooked to the Mazda satisfy you occasional cravings for an open bed?
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Old 04-28-2012, 02:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
(km, not miles BTW)
I did convert to miles before commenting. Wow, that thing never gets a chance to cool off. You don't need a block heater. I wouldn't want to criss-cross the continent in a truck!

Quote:
You might consider the Ford F150 with the Ecoboost motor. It's plenty capable of meeting your needs and gets decent mileage for a full sized truck. The CleanMPG guys did a cross country in a 2wd version @ 32mpg.
I bet that's an atypical result. Don't count on getting that.
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Old 04-28-2012, 04:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Yah I am pretty leery about the ecoboost numbers. From what I have read on F-150 forums etc it is a real mixed bag on whether you will get good results or not. I have not heard any negative reports on the 5L and know two people who have one. They are both very happy.


Just had a look at that 32 mpg claim. While I don't doubt their numbers I would call it impracticable for me. I am not going to give up safe driving habits (staying with the flow of traffic) for better fuel economy.


Yes I can haul stuff in a trailer, it's just nicer to be able to load stuff on a truck. I have lived with an SUV instead of a truck for over 4 years so I know I can make that work. What I want to figure out is if I can get the vehicle I want instead *AND* end up with decent efficiency without resorting to hobbling said vehicle.



EDIT: I don't quite have these forums figured out yet but where would the best place be to ask about doing these modifications (aero cap, air dam, partial grill block, etc) and what I should reasonably expect after doing them?
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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There's a search function at the top of the page and practically everything you might want to try has been discussed, done, and analyzed.
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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My father has a 08 5.4l F150 2wd and gets 19-20 mpg on the highway consistently. 0 mods just conservitave driving@ the speedlimit.
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:34 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Here are the results from the EPA's web site for 2011 to 2013 models of 4 wheel drive trucks.
Fuel Economy


Personally I like using a trailer more then a truck bed, when I borrow my parents truck I always take the trailer because it's a foot and a half lower the truck bed, it's wider, longer and dead flat, the one they have tips too, so loading anything with wheels on to it becomes really easy, at work we have a larger trailer and we never put anything in the truck bed because our work truck is a 4 wheel drive dodge and the tailgate height is just to high to lift much of anything up to without hurting your self, light stuff is nice to protect so it tends to go inside the cab.
If the little Mercedes vans were 4 wheel drive then we would have one of those as a work vehicle, but we end up in weird places at work and use the 4 wheel drive enough to make it worth while, but the smaller ones are 1 ton, get 28mpg and are pretty nice inside, they also do have rust issues, but with how many miles you put on a vehicle the rest of it's going to wear out before it rusts to bad.

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